Blog / ursa major plus

  • Back In Business and Stepping It Up

    The shop is up and running again! I've scoured racks upon racks for the best plus size vintage and I found so many great pieces that I decided extend our size range to include folks who might describe themselves as "inbetweenies" - now you can shop UM+ from sizes 10 and up. As always, I don't have an upper size limit and am constantly on the look out for vintage of all plus sizes. 

    Additionally, I'd like to announce a new initiative that's happening in the shop. For every item that is sold, I'm going to donate $2 to an organization that is working to support humans and the environment in various issues. Every month I'll change the recipient for a broader reach with donations. Throughout March, I will be giving $2/item to Trans Lifeline, and in April I'm looking at you, ACLU

    To be clear, I will be giving $2 to Trans Lifeline for every item that is purchased in my store. If you shop with us and buy four things, they will receive $8 from your purchase. I welcome suggestions of organizations that you would like to see your money go towards, please feel free to comment on this post or send me an email - amarina@ursamajor.ca.

    xoxo Amarina

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  • What Happened To The Store? A Personal Update

     Teenage me - setting sporty goth trends in the 90s and feeling dramatic about everything

    Fifteen has always been my lucky number. I played softball for a while and I’d fight harder picking my jersey number than any effort I would on the field. I can’t remember where this silly allegiance originated but I feel better when I open a fortune cookie and fifteen is among the lucky numbers listed. All of this is to say that I had high expectations for 2015, even though I only had a vague idea of how I wanted it to go down.

    January didn’t start off in a great way. Seasonal sadness and some other things stuck in a little deeper than years passed. By February, my partner Ron and I nabbed some really cheap flights to Vegas on a whim and we took off on a dreamy three week road trip through Nevada, Arizona, and California. It was a pivotal self-care decision for us. When we got back we decided to regroup and address what we’d like the next couple of years to look like and began getting our shit together so we could more easily work toward our goals and to be able to say yes to spontaneity.

    Dreams coming true - finally got to visit Salvation Mountain

    Dreams coming true - finally got to visit Salvation Mountain!

    The first thing Ron and I did was go to the bank and have a financial adviser answer our questions about what adults do with money and how to save a bit every once in awhile. We’ve been working with a budget and it feels pretty great to know exactly where everything is going.

    One of the biggest ideas we agreed on was to give ourselves the ability to say YES to change and adventure. To pick up and leave for a while if we wanted to. When we used to entertain future plan ideas it would always come down to worrying about what we’re going to do with all our crap and the conversation would fade out. We had a lot of stuff.

    Giving our terrible microwave an appropriate goodbye

    It started with our television, then clothes, the microwave, and some major furniture. We traded stuff for consumables like whiskey and candles, and donated the rest. Cutting my wardrobe in half seemed impossible at first - I’ve been overly attached to clothes since my teens because it was so hard to find what I liked to wear in size fat. It began feeling easy after the initial bags went out and now that winter is pretty much gone I’ve started cutting what I have in half again. I’ve been looking forward to it!

     Sometimes it's hard to believe that I put out this magazine - a few shots from Issue One

    When trying to figure out what I wanted the next couple of years to look like, one of the most dominant feelings was that the time was right for me to start working towards a life long dream - to start a fashion magazine that celebrates everyone. All bodies, all genders, all backgrounds. I had been loosely chatting with a like-minded Instagram bud about it and together we decided to start BUSH MagazineWe launched a successful Kickstarter campaign last summer and Issue One was released in the fall! We were so lucky to have the most amazing contributors and fashion queen Mo Handahu agreed to be on the cover, in a dress she made herself.

    Now I'm working on the next issue solo and it's going to be even better than the first. In fact, if you'd like to pitch a written piece, art piece, or a lookbook, send me an email (amarina@ursamajor.ca), I'd love to hear from you!

    Feeling cute on our wedding day!

    In September my partner Ron and I decided to get married. It was a super small affair, but a totally wild day spent at one of our most favourite places - Jungle Cat World. A small animal sanctuary just outside of Toronto, we took a group of our friends and fam to meet a lemur, a fennec fox, a serval cat, and some wolf puppies. Ron and I got to have a private tiger interaction after the ceremony and it was the most surreal of surreal moments. Afterwards, we had a huge bonfire in our favourite park in Toronto surrounded by the best people we know and our buds surprised us with a fireworks show. It was absolute magic.

    I wore a vintage, hand-embroidered muslin house dress that I got from Black Lodge Vintage on Etsy, and I added some straps to give it a little extra shape. I've had these thrifted white cowboy boots forever and I thought they were cute and perfectly comfy for the day. My bouquet was made by my mom, with flowers from her garden and eucalyptus, because it's my fave. My dear friend Yuli Scheidt agreed to take photos and unsurprisingly, she did a beautiful job of capturing the day.

           

    A fresh start for Ursa Major+

    After the wedding I started picking vintage again, in preparation to re-open the Ursa Major+ shop (I also started writing this post). That's when something super unexpected happened. Ron was offered a great job that would take us to Memphis, Tennessee for two years and who knows where beyond that. It was an opportunity and an adventure that we couldn't say no to, and we didn't. Ursa Major+ had to be put on hold, again, while we prepped for the big move. We've been writing about our transition over on our blog, Favourite Human. If you're curious about what I'm up to personally, please check it out.

     A geographically accurate illustration of our big move by my husband Ron

    So here I am, finally getting back to what I love so much: selling clothes and interacting with fat babes. I hope I find some great new places for vintage in Tennessee, if you know of any in the Memphis area, hook a girl up!

    2015 was so much more than I ever could have predicted and 2016 has already gotten off to a pretty wild start. I've already found some of the best plus-size vintage to date and I'm getting it all ready for the store to open up again as soon as possible. Follow me on Instagram or Facebook for updates, I can't wait to dive back into this!

    xoxo Amarina

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  • A New Look


    A summer or two ago I found a box of slides at a neighbourhood yard sale. The seller didn't know who the slides belonged to and she wanted $3 for the whole box. My partner and I continued our walk to the beach, taking turns carrying the big plastic case. We opened it up as soon as we found a place to sit and were blown away by each slide as we went through them one by one.
    They're all photos from the 50s and 60s, summer scenes and photos of gardens and cars. I've thought about them a lot since they came into our possession and as I started to prepare to reboot the Ursa Major+ shop, I really kept going back to them for inspiration. 
    I'm going to be using some of these images in a collaborative project for the next issue of my magazine, but for now these are my new clothing tags. 
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  • #WomanCrushWednesday - Self-Love Edition

    Some of the only photos I have of myself from high school. I decided at some point that I was going to wear the same shirt every year.

    I am of the age where Instagram still doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to remind myself to post sometimes and I do, because it’s one of the ways I love to engage with the community of babes on there. Selfies, crap that I’m doing, people I’m spending time with, outfit posts – I try to put something out into the world every day, even if it’s a bit meaningless.

    Hump days are for #womancrushwednesday of course and on #throwbackthursday I like to dig out my box of photos that go all the way to when I was a wee baby and post something from there. There is a thing about it though that I can’t always ignore: a quick sampling of the box’s contents would reveal a glaring gap in time. It could appear as though I time travelled from age 12 to 20, leaving only a few high school photos as evidence that I was even ever a teen.

    I look at the few photos I do have and even though I’m smiling I can see that I was sad. Really sad. I felt out of place in the smallish town I grew up in, people made fun of me, and I had a near impossible time finding like-minded individuals. I gained some more weight on my chubby frame and stopped asking myself what I wanted to do with my life because it didn’t matter. I told myself that I couldn’t do the fashion-y things that I had dreamed about because I was fat. Even when I applied for university I chose to major in Political Science because it seemed responsible. I hated every class I took and it was a real struggle to get through the academic side of post-secondary life.

    The benefits of university outweighed the challenges. I got out of my town and moved to Toronto, I met some absolutely incredible humans, I found a couple kindred fat babes and I started to consider the idea that working for the government would absolutely be the wrong move for me. I didn’t have a precise direction but I began to make a list of things I knew I did not want to do. I started creating things with my hands and considering more options. I stopped hiding when someone would pull a camera out. I eventually stopped cringing when I’d see I picture of myself and now I make time to take self-love selfies and post then on Instagram because it’s fun and also because it’s important.

    Feeling free to do whatever the eff I want.

    I didn’t grow up with the internet and didn’t even think that other fat, artsy, feminist girls existed because they were never shown on tv or in magazines and I certainly never saw anyone around my town like that. Sure everyone has the internet now but the struggle for body diversity and self-acceptance is real and still trudging along. Incredible strides have been made and the movement is accelerating at a pace I used to think wasn’t possible.

    So I just wanted to take a long-winded moment today, on this platform to say that however much love you have for yourself is okay. Even if it’s only a little, even if you are your own personal hero. Just keep on taking in the good and try to be open to new things, even if they’re outside of your comfort zone. Big love to everyone out there doing their thing today, including myself.

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  • #WomanCrushWednesday - Jillian Tamaki

    With TCAF (Toronto Comic Arts Festival) around the corner, the city is abuzz with talk of graphic novels, comics, and zines. It seems like there are a million comic-related happenings right now and one of those events happened last night. It was the Toronto stop for artist Jillian Tamaki’s book tour, as she promotes her latest publication, SuperMutant Magic Academy. I had enough sense to go to her talk and she was charming, funny, and awesome.

    In an industry that has been notoriously sexist, Jillian creates gorgeous work that is mostly about women and is being celebrated for it. Her last book, This One Summer that she made with her cousin Mariko Tamaki won the Governor General’s Award, she's in the middle of this book tour, and she’s a featured guest at TCAF this year.

    On top of being an incredible illustrator and cartoonist, Jillian is a teacher and one thing she touched on last night stuck with me in a lesson-y way. She said, don’t wait until your work is perfect to put it out in the world. Figure it out in front of everyone and keep trying to make it better.

    If you are a fan of graphic novels you probably already know her work. If you haven't read much but have always wanted to, pick up one of her books. I promise you won't regret it.
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  • #WomanCrushWednesday - Laffing Sal

    We heard her laughing before we saw her. It was the scarier side of laughter, almost sinister so I guess it could have been more of a cackle. When I first laid eyes on her she was bigger than I expected, because all the machines in the Musée Mécanique in San Francisco were about half her size. Laffing Sal (also known as the “Fat Lady”) was a staple in carnivals across the United States in the 1930s and 40s. For a coin or two her 6’10” frame would jiggle and laugh, much to the amusement or terror of the patron.

    She was a sloppy old stereotype of a fat woman that people could laugh at and fear. Some of the animatronic Laffing Sals were extra shabby but the one we encountered was quite dolled up, with a freshly restored face that included the missing front tooth that they all had. We popped in our 50 cents and she laughed for an uncomfortable amount of time. The record under her platform finished, reset itself and all the people who had gathered around moved on to their next antique game. My immediate reaction was to feel offended.

    Laffing Sal stuck with me since I saw her in March and actually I’ve been quite charmed. I kept wondering why, out of all of the machines, this one was so iconic and why so many had been cared for and preserved over the years. I love her bold, loud, terrifying laugh – she doesn’t give a shit what people think. Or she wouldn’t, if she was a real person. I’m still not clear what the original intentions were for Laffing Sal but I like to think she’s a misunderstood babe doing her own thing and I want to celebrate that.

    You can hear a sampling of her laugh on the Musée Mécanique site. It startled my sleeping cat when I opened it, you’ve been warned.  

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  • #WomanCrushWednesday - The Babes of Scandal

    A couple of weeks ago I made a small declaration on Instagram about donating, repurposing and giving away a bunch of things that my partner and I had accumulated over the years. Aside from a club chair that had seen better days, the biggest item that we’ve sent packing so far was our television.

    It felt right. I find commercials infuriating and even muting them wasn’t good enough. We realized that we rarely even turned it on anymore, we liked having that time to do other things and we didn’t want to pay for cable either. Full disclosure, there was one, kinda major reason for hesitation: how was I going to watch Scandal the second it was on?! Would I have to WAIT?! What if one of my lovely friends has a jerk spoiler passionate moment about it on Facebook before I see the episode and ruins everything?! Maybe we should just keep it until the season is over…

    Alas, team minimalism won and out went the television. It was the right thing to do.

    It hasn’t always been like this. Last summer a friend of mine was super late to meet me for a snack date and her reason was, “Sorry I’m so late, I was watching Scandal and I couldn’t stop.” At the time this seemed ludicrous, until I got sick around the holidays and decided to give this show that people are freaking out about a try. My expectations were low, I have never been much of a primetime drama watcher but I trust the taste of my tardy friend. Days passed and I went through the first two seasons like they were boxes of Kleenex.

    I love Scandal. I’m so into the suspense of it all and the strong female characters and the president is a spineless wiener and Noel from Felicity is in it and I’m not complaining about that one bit. It’s not without problems – I would like to see some more body diversity in the cast and for main character Olivia Pope to be less in love with who she’s in love with. But Shonda Rhimes is definitely using this show as a platform for discussion of race, women in power, love, class, and more and I’m invested. The season is almost over and I know it’s going to be a wild cliffhanger before the countdown to next season begins.

    So I guess I have forgiven my friend for her lateness that day because I probably (almost definitely) would have done the same thing in her shoes. It’s a miracle really, that she even pried her eyes away for social time and nourishment! If you haven’t watched this show yet and it seems like your thing, clear your calendar and prepare some snacks.

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  • Sign Up For Our Newsletter!

    Hi awesome babes,
    I am so excited to announce the new Ursa Major+ Newsletter! I'm only going to send it out twice a month (on the 1st and 15th, to be exact!) and you can expect to see:
    • Promo codes for exclusive sales
    • A first gander at new lookbook shoots
    • A heads up of where Ursa Major+ is going to be I.R.L.
    • and more!! 

    This is going to be so fun, sign up if you're into it!

    xo Amarina

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  • California Road Tripping

    Hi babes, just a quick note to say I'm taking my first vacation since I opened the store!! Here I am almost two years ago be bopping around the Salton Sea before heading to Joshua Tree National Park and it was all so inspiring - I can't wait to go back. Road tripping around California is good for the soul and hopefully I'll find some great plus-size vintage to bring back for y'all. All orders will ship March 12th when I get back and guess what, FREE SHIPPING is on until then! xoxo
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  • #WomanCrushWednesday - Garnet of Steven Universe

    So here’s a thing about me - my very first crush was half man/half cat beefcake Lion-O from Thundercats. If you haven’t laid eyes on this 80s cartoon classic, he’s a mulleted redhead catman stomping around in bright blue boots and matching wrestling singlet because no fabric in the universe could contain his raging biceps and thighs. Not exactly my type now.

    I watched a ton of cartoons and dabbled in animation appreciation but never fully got on the bandwagon until I started dating my guy for life, an artist and animator. He showed me all sorts of cool things that I had never seen and I’m sure at some point last year he came home and exclaimed, ‘We have to watch Steven Universe!” because we’ve since spent many Saturday mornings watching it and eating pancakes.

    Steven Universe is the first show on the Cartoon Network created by a woman. Her name is Rebecca Sugar and she’s the REAL crush behind this week’s #WomanCrushWednesday. At 26, she had already left her successful position at Adventure Time to do her own thing. Enter Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems, his three female guardians who are also protecting the planet from evil. Pearl, Amethyst, and Garnet are crazy awesome babe heroes who are smart and tough. They are all my favourite but Garnet is my MOST favourite right now as I write this. She’s kind of built like Lion-O but with an afro, all big thighs and strong arms which transform into gauntlets when she’s destroying enemies. Garnet (voiced by Estelle) is the kind of character that would have made an impact on me as a kid and it is really awesome and important that Rebecca Sugar is creating television full of complex female characters that are out of this world. Big love to Steven Universe!

    You can check out Rebecca Sugar on Twitter and here’s a really charming interview she did for the Cartoon Network.
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